The Nutritional Officer of UNICEF in Ebonyi State, Mr Cyprain Ogbonna, made the point at an event on Saturday in Abakaliki,
to mark the starting of the 2020 celebration of World Breastfeeding week.
The theme of the World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet.”
The event will be marked between August 1 and August 7 to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and infants.
Ogbonna said that adequate breastfeeding had, over the years, prevented several childhood diseases and brought lifelong positive benefits associated with child spacing.
He said that other benefits include risk reduction for some breast and ovarian cancers as well as hypertension.
The Nutritional Officer described breast milk as a nature-given-first food that needed to be preserved for its undebatable benefits to a mother and her baby.
He added that the milk was a critical part of a sustainable food system.
According to him, it would be best to start feeding babies breast milk within one hour of birth and exclusively for the first six months of life, after which mothers should introduce appropriate complementary foods to the baby.
While condemning misuse of breast milk substitutes, he advised that breastfeeding should be maintained, but hygienically done.
Also, the Nutrition Manager of UNICEF in Enugu State Hanifa Namusoke, said in line with the theme, WHO and UNICEF called on governments to protect and promote a critical component of breastfeeding support.
“Breast milk is complete for a healthier planet and that is why WHO and UNICEF recommend optimal infant and young child feeding practices with emphasis on early initiation of mothers feeding their babies within one hour of birth,” Namusoke said.